Let Deadspin Explain This Hilarious Cycling Scandal To You
October 8, 2019 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Let us now chronicle the rise and sort-of fall of British YouTuber and now-former national e-cycling champion Cameron Jeffers. Unfortunately, the nouns in this story do not become that much easier to understand as we proceed, but please bear with me.
posted by Etrigan (33 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, assuming he had gone ahead and actually done the work necessary to unlock this bike, he would have ... been better trained for the championship race? Oooh, scandalous.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:29 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


More and more every day i notice little things. A constant dull back pain in the morning. 10% reduced night vision, occasionally thinking, either my arm needs to get longer or i might need reading glasses. Today its this. I'm getting old. Why cant people just ride an actual bike to actual places. And who tf wants to watch a guy kinda ride a bike through a video game. This is literally cheering on people exercising. Amd the entire concept really does make me feel old. Damn kids.
posted by chasles at 6:33 AM on October 8 [11 favorites]


This is literally cheering on people exercising.

I feel the same about actual cycling, but people do it. I've a mate who watches people run around in circles - sometimes in person.
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 AM on October 8 [11 favorites]


Recent post on e-cycling (and other virtual exercise communities) on the blue.

Why cant people just ride an actual bike to actual places.

Shitty weather, shitty drivers who think that their "right" to hog the roads in their gas-guzzling monsters is impeded by the occasional cyclist and do dangerous stupid shit around cyclists, showing up at work all sweaty and not able to take a shower there, etc. I did a fun autumn ride a couple of days ago that was somewhat dampened both by my having had a recent cold that took the wind out of my sails a bit and also by my not having ridden for a month, due to the cold and a surprisingly rainy September. I've been Zwift-curious since I read the above post, and am considering canceling my seldom-used gym membership in favor of a subscription.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 AM on October 8 [23 favorites]


So, assuming he had gone ahead and actually done the work necessary to unlock this bike, he would have ... been better trained for the championship race?

Nah, he rode outside to train. He cheated to get the unlocked bike (which isn’t actually the fastest bike on Zwift but it does glow when you pedal hard so it’s got that going for it).

I earned the Tron bike! I couldn’t beat him though. Also, yeah, Zwift is getting kind of silly with all the gamification. Still a good alternative to getting soaked/frozen.

This is literally cheering on people exercising

Kind of? More he’s cheating for influencer/status points.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:42 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


This is literally cheering on people exercising

No different than the people who cheer on runners at races. It is one thing to ride a stationary bike for 15 minutes and a completely different endeavor to ride it for hours. Whether or not you are "actually moving" it takes an enormous amount of physical and mental fortitude to not just, like, give up halfway through. Cheering helps, a lot, with the mental bit.

I wish I could get glowing Tron legs.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:16 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I love riding bikes outside and not caring about watts. But I try not to be judgy about folks who Zwift. Thank you for this article about Zwifters that I can judge without any reservations.
posted by 3j0hn at 7:17 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


This is literally cheering on people exercising.

As a rowing parent, I can tell you that indoor erg competitions are Very Much A Thing. Every rower I know would rather be on the water, but erging has its own meme culture and everything.
posted by jquinby at 7:30 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Watching people do things can be fun. A few people even watch videogames being played!

Anyway, I think a little known culture way back in the day used to award prizes for like throwing a heavy rock and a long piece of wood fashioned into a very pointy end and running super duper fast so damn kids watching exercise, indeed.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:09 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


This is the least scandalous scandal I've heard of since the 2012 Olympic badminton scandal.

The e-bikes should all have the same stats, it's a fucking video game. Or at the least, they should all be unlocked for all competitors for serious competitions.

It's really frustrating when people get DQ'd or have results invalidated because the organizing body decided they acted against the "spirit" of the rules instead of the actual rules. He didn't actually cheat at all, he just unlocked a sweet-looking bike for the race, and gained no advantage over his competitors.
posted by explosion at 8:13 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


“It seems peculiar to me that an official cycling national championship race would allow competitors to ride different virtual bikes and start on a less-than-level playing field, but that’s probably why I am neither a cycling bureaucrat nor an esports champion.”
posted by q*ben at 8:15 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


"Flat-stage Classics Rider Has Trouble Climbing" would literally be the least surprising headline in non-virtual cycling.


*cough*Mark Cavendish*cough*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:24 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


and gained no advantage over his competitors.

This is incorrect. The unlocked bike performed better and this dude won actually money as a result.
posted by sideshow at 8:29 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Also worth mentioning: if you get popped for EPO or HGH at an amateur race with no prizes, you’ll still get the UCI ban. And this happens alllll the time.
posted by sideshow at 8:31 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Everything about this confuses me.
posted by biogeo at 8:36 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


The thing that infuriates me about this is the bike is an unlockable. The only thing that prevents him from just using it is doing some bullshit unlock stunt like to get a secret gun in a shooter, or "earning" the right to play as Reptile. Do fighting game championships care if you've unlocked Solid Snake in your copy of Smash?

I've always hated unlock things like this, but especially for professional play, where it entirely amounts to "you must have wasted at least this much time to qualify."
posted by JHarris at 8:41 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: you must have wasted at least this much time to qualify.
posted by jquinby at 8:44 AM on October 8 [26 favorites]


This is incorrect. The unlocked bike performed better and this dude won actually money as a result.

His competitors (some of them) also had access to the bike. It wasn't the use of the bike that was considered "cheating," but how he gained access.

It might be against Zwift's terms of service, but it was absolutely not cheating, and it's bullshit on the part of Zwift.
posted by explosion at 9:15 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to me that he was banned by British Cycling not just from the eSport platform but from his day job real road racing of actual cycles that you pedal too. "All forms of racing". As the accredited national body, presumably this would apply world-wide.

The £250 fine is nothing, but a 6-month ban could mean loss of sponsorship and being dropped from his pro team. That's a pretty major kink in anyone's career.
posted by bonehead at 9:31 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


It seems peculiar to me that an official cycling national championship race would allow competitors to ride different virtual bikes and start on a less-than-level playing field, but that’s probably why I am neither a cycling bureaucrat nor an esports champion.

I don't have a problem with them riding different bikes -- different riders ride different bikes in the real world, too. I think that part seems fine. But if you're throwing a professional competition, what bikes you even are permitted to ride shouldn't be related to unlocking them on the platform -- everyone should have access to any bike and be allowed to choose which one they want to use based on personal preferences, riding style, etc.

I could imagine esports competitions where certain gear is unavailable -- forcing lower level competitors to use only lower level gear or taking away the highest, most tricked out gear from people to get a more basic kind of match -- but again, what is available should be available equally to anyone in that competition.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:35 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Like any equipment-based racing sport, cycling has fairly detailed technical criteria for bikes. There's certainly room for innovation in cycling still, vis the new suits and helmets in track racing, but at any single event, the certification bodies are trying hard to make sure that technical differences aren't the thing that wins races. Not always successfully, but that's certainly one of their major concerns.
posted by bonehead at 9:50 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


The fact that British Cycling in involved, and his ban counts in the real world as well, is what makes this so baffling. Because if you're treating this with the logic of outdoor riding, it makes no sense.

"Sorry this Cannondale model is only available to riders who have climbed Alpe d'Huez in a sanctioned race. You're not allowed to use it in competition but other racers are."
posted by thecjm at 9:54 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: this dude won actually money
posted by Quasirandom at 9:56 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


While Zwift racing is still very new, it's been plagued by the typical cheater stuff that seems to happen with anything competitive. People lower their weight in program to gain more power, people using certain trainers or messing with their trainers to get higher numbers, people riding around before a race to get the aero powerup for the final sprint (think this is fixed though). Heck, people will even purposely stay under a certain power number to stay in a lower division to win.....

In this case the funny/sad part is I'm fairly certain by the time of the competition, Cam had the elevation completed to unlock the bike. I bet he also had the "Zwift Drops" to buy an equally as fast bike/wheel set, but probably wanted the bling right away. Either way, this was absolutely a flex by the organizers to show they won't kid around with cheating. The pathetic thing is they had to ignore their own malfeasance and bend over backwards for a scapegoat.
posted by remo at 10:15 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Thanks to my newfound love of cycling, coupled with a steady diet of GCN and NorCal Cycling videos, I actually know what's going on here. Of course, not enough to have anything useful to add, but go me.

Actually, my biggest gripe with the idea of Zwift races is that smart trainers are so expensive. Plus you're using your own, real bike on it, so the better your real bike and shifters, the better your Zwift performance, right? Cycling isn't a cheap sport to be competitive in, and I wish there were an option for participating in something like this without having to spend thousands of dollars. So then on top of that there are bikes you can unlock? I get why there would be incentives for people, but if those unlocked bikes actually run faster in-game, then things get weird on another level.

So yeah, in theory I'd do Zwift rides all the time, because I don't live in a super bike-friendly area. It's exhaustingly hilly, and sometimes I just want the exercise without having to get stressed out about all the cars driving way too close to me. But Zwift is so expensive, and if there are now real races for money, it just feels like another aspect of cycling that's effectively off limits to someone without loads of disposable money. I wish it could be the other way around, where a virtual race could be a more accessible option for some people.

Anyway, British Cycling seems pretty harsh here, but mostly because of the 6-month ban. Like, OK, strip him of the Zwift title, but jeez, he can't participate in real road races? Yikes.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:18 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


The tension between technological advantages and a level playing field has been a feature in professional road cycling since Henri Desgrange said, "What if we make them ride up fucking mountains?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:29 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Riding a bike around the real for exercise is just as"pointless" as doing it in your home since the point is merely exercise. The thing that makes me mad about this incidence is that the game itself fosters this imbalance. One advantage of a virtual race is you could put everyone on an equal playing field, eliminating this disgusting face of income inequality in favor of competitive spirit. Retroactively punishing this person for rules that weren't in place at the time and for a system that is itself a bigger problem is not right. The better way to address this incident would be to make all of the bikes available to all players in a competition.

I am getting pretty frustrated with this constant "old person yells at cloud" routine in regards to people who participate or watch virtual activities. It has to be a deliberately obtuse position, it only takes a moment to think of accepted examples of viewers watching something they aren't participating in or isn't "real." Not to mention the judgmental emptiness of a comment like "who would watch X" in reference to something people demonstrably enjoy watching. Just say you don't care to watch X, if you must say anything at all, because you can use a condescending tone for anything and everything that might be X.

I realize the irony of yelling at a cloud while complaining about cloud yellers. I don't mean to single anyone out, it's just something that comes up with basically every story related to people watching anything virtual in nature.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:38 AM on October 8 [14 favorites]


Metafilter: yelling at a cloud while complaining about cloud yellers
posted by treepour at 11:02 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Shape that haunt the dusk - Smart trainers are expensive but, provide more immersion. However, you don't need one to have fun. My 6 y/o has the free kids Zwift account and rides his bmx bike on my old "dumb trainer" alongside me sometimes and has a blast.

As for bike, I use a pretty old bike on my smart trainer and the shifting has minimal impact in performance. It's how well you maintain the drivetrain that matters. You can also make adjustments in app if you don't have the right gearing for big climbs to make them more manageable.

As for Zwift don't be afraid of the races, you don't have to do them, and it doesn't matter what equipment you use. There is a great group on Zwift called the HERD that has beginner friendly rides and events. Experienced riders offer encouragement and mentor beginners about things like gear, surviving group rides (it's easy to get dropped when you first start out), etc.... You can do fun rides with them (they have lot's of beginner rides!) and they even offer beginner friendly races if you want to try it in an encouraging environment with other folks learning.
posted by remo at 11:17 AM on October 8


It's not totally analogous, but in a real-world cycling event, if you won the race but were later found to have been riding a stolen bicycle, would you be stripped of your win and given a temporary ban from racing?
posted by 3j0hn at 11:27 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


It's not totally analogous, but in a real-world cycling event, if you won the race but were later found to have been riding a stolen bicycle, would you be stripped of your win and given a temporary ban from racing?

No.
posted by entropone at 12:46 PM on October 8


That's an interesting question- you can finish a race on the bike of someone else from your team (in fact, teams plan for this as one possible eventuality), or on a bike from neutral service. In the past, stages have even been completed on bikes taken from spectators (technically you're only supposed to receive help from your team, but in the case of Tyler Ferrar in 2016, it was ruled that he already had the advantage, and made an allowance given that he had been in such a bad crash). Chris Froome was not so lucky, and received a 2 minute penalty on a stage for taking a wheel from a member of another team. In any case, I think the race organizers would need to examine any spectator's bike to ensure it was UCI compliant.

I'm not sure that UCI rules actually address the question of a stolen bike, though. I suspect you might at least receive a time penalty, which could effectively strip you of a stage win in a tour. You might even be DQ'd on a stage, or thrown out of a particular race (this is something that usually happens for fighting, dangerous riding, or particularly egregious cheating such as taking a pull from a team car).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:04 PM on October 8


Jeffers had his character ride at 2,000 watts up long climbs, which is a lot.

For the uninitiated, this is about 4-5 times what a top pro climber can do.

But I don't know why this is even a thing. Live races are difficult to police, let alone video games. It's not like cycling's governing bodies have a history of smashing success keeping cheaters at bay in the first place.
posted by klanawa at 4:36 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


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